Where did the stereotype of conservatives come from—that they are hardhearted bigots and greedy racists who are indifferent to the poor and the environment? Where, also, does the idea come that conservatives are in the minority? We can blame the media and the opposing perspective, but as conservatives, we haven’t been our own BFFs. (That’s Best Friends Forever, to the non-texting generation.) We frequently don’t present ourselves well, nor do we push back against the stereotype.
First, conservatives are not in the minority. When we self-identify, 52% of us say we’re conservative, according to John Anthony in his “Shattering America’s Trance” workshop. Only 28% claim to be liberals or the synonymous progressives. The remaining 20% call themselves moderates—that biblical “halting between two opinions” that leaves one straddling both sides with a leg in each.
Second, conservatives are not insensitive. Rather, they are do-it-yourselfers; they believe life’s best when people take care of themselves. They promote compassion in the truest sense: not a handout, but a job; not safety from risk, but freedom to try. Conservatives see a different monster underneath the bed and a different light at the end of the tunnel that their progressive counterparts. Liberals see private enterprise and corporations as the monster and government care-giving as the salvation. Conservatives tend to reverse the equation. They believe when people work for their own good, they create momentum and jobs for others and everybody wins. They view most government intervention like a runner would view someone who tried to trip him near the finish line. Conservatives proclaim that a marketplace without manipulation levels itself out and eventually takes care of most everybody’s needs. It’s not perfect; nothing is, but this independent approach produces better results than the progressive alternative.
Many progressives have good hearts. They give unquestioningly, but their charity often doesn’t produce the desired outcome. In addition, it is given with money taken from others. Their ideologies are the repackaged failures of past cultures. When programs fail they add more of the same, rather than retooling. Our liberal US welfare system is the result. We give to those without jobs, which seems benevolent. While some use the help to become independent, many use it as endless sole support and never work. These people don’t become productive citizens. Instead, they form a handicapped welfare culture, as anyone who has been in The Projects of Dallas, Detroit and almost every major city in the nation can verify. This is the visible reproach of the progressive ideology—it doesn’t work.
Among people who expect to be cared for by others, the conservative’s “Buck up; you can do it!” stance seems harsh, especially when they bring few goodies to the discussion table. Conservatives preach a “gospel” of self-sufficiency in a healthy free market and rights balanced with duties. However, they sometimes push so forcefully in an attempt to oppose entitlement that they seem uncaring.
Conservatives are not alone in being seen as harsh. Many parents are viewed as hard-nosed when they teach a child independence—insisting a three year old dress himself, a 12 year old work out her own math problem, a teen earn his own college tuition. Those are hard positions to take. Parents aren’t mean; instead, they want their kids to develop skills and find a sense of accomplishment.
Coaches also know this drill. They require players to hit the weight room to build muscle, to practice until they consistently hit the three-pointer, and attend every practice. And what use would a physical therapist be after an accident if he didn’t push you to exercise that body part until it works again? Strictness has its place, as parents, coaches, physical therapists and conservatives attest.
That’s the philosophy behind true conservatives: honest compassion wrapped in tough love’s self-sufficiency. That independence requires limited government that is kept small and close to the people where they can control it. Our two party system no longer divides along republican and democrat, conservative and liberal lines. The terminology is changing. Liberals are now progressives who believe we have outgrown inalienable rights and self-government as we progress to national control and world government. Conservative are becoming “protectives”—those who believe human nature hasn’t changed and our Constitution, which restrains human nature to protect inalienable rights, is inspired and workable in its original form.
While progressives preach theory and dismantle the rule of law, protectives demand reality and obedience to our constitutional rules.
The conservative’s commitment is to what is proven to work, not hopeful theories. When all is said and done, it is usually the protectives that actually got it done; the progressives only redistributed it.
The media routinely misrepresents conservatives, but we also misrepresent ourselves. We need to hone our image. We are in the majority and our principles work. Protectives are not bigots, racists, hard-hearted or greedy. We certainly are not insensitive to the poor and we care deeply about the earth. We simply differ sharply in our responses to these problems. If we want to represent ourselves accurately, we need to let our concern for ethnic groups and the unfortunate show. We should insist on integrity from big business and safeguard the environment in ways that do not destroy individual rights. A true protective wants and works for integrity in all walks of life.